Northern Ireland news

Woman and young son uninjured in arson attack at north Belfast home

The property at Ballysillan Avenue damaged in an arson attack in the early hours of Saturday.
Paul Ainsworth

An arson attack at the north Belfast home of a woman and her young son has been described as "any parent's worst nightmare".

The incident occurred in the early hours of Saturday, when a fire was reported in the Ballysillan Avenue area. The blaze occurred when furniture at the side of the house was set alight before the fire spread to the side of the property where it caused damage.

The woman and her one-year-old son were uninjured and a PSNI spokesman urged anyone with information to come forward, adding: "Inquiries are continuing but the fire is being treated as deliberate."

The attack has been condemned by local political representatives, including PUP councillor Julie-Anne Corr Johnston, who said:

“I spoke with her, the victim, this morning who described the crippling fear she experienced when she opened the door to her baby boy's smoked filled bedroom. Any parents worst nightmare."

Cllr Corr-Johnston said those behind the incident had "no regard whatsoever" for the woman and her son, and said she believed the fire was not linked to other incidents in the Ballysillan area which have led to a number of families forced to leave their homes.

"Whilst this incident comes against a backdrop of violent intimidation that has occurred in recent months, intimidation that forced five other families to leave the same area, there are reasonable grounds to suggest it may be unrelated," she added.

North Belfast DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst said: "The community in Greater Ballysillan and beyond are totally sickened by these cowardly attacks, clearly being carried out by criminal elements with a sinister motive."

Meanwhile, a Co Down woman forced to flee her Bangor home with her young daughter after it was attacked by a gang of masked men has pleaded with loyalists to lift a death threat against her.

Emma Goodwin (33), told the Sunday Life that a death threat was issued against her by the UDA after a relationship with a local loyalist turned sour. Her home in Bangor's Bloomfield Estate was targeted by men who smashed windows at the property, and she claimed she has been warned she cannot return to North Down.

Describing the attack on her home, which occurred earlier this year, she said: "My 15-year-old sister was screaming, and the more she screamed for them to stop the more they kept going. The whole street was out watching them do it, the whole street could hear my sister screaming, they continued to smash the windows and there wasn't a bit of glass left in the house."

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